Sunday, January 30, 2011

When to be a Keeper and When to be a Thrower-Outer

Tonight I spent time going through a shopping bag full of papers that belonged to my grandmother who passed away last Fall. My Aunt and Mom were helping my grandfather out, going through and cleaning up the house after her passing, and this was a bag of papers that were related to genealogy, so that meant they got set aside for me to have (Thanks Mom and Aunt Becky!!!)

So after the busy holidays and nose surgery and work and all that I finally had a moment to sit and review what was in the bag.

Firstly, there was a super awesome blue ribbon First Prize of a stack of photo negatives from the 1950's, each sleeve carefully labeled in my grandmother's handwriting. Joy!

There were a lot of large manila envelopes that my grandmother had re-used to store notes she had kept when doing genealogy. For several years in the 1990's and early 2000s my grandmother had done a lot with genealogy, she and I kind of got the bug together. So now I have lots of the original scraps of paper that I can tell she was on the phone with a sibling asking questions and was taking notes; there are lists of questions that she was passing around the family trying to track down answers. As I look at these notes now I have confirmation for some of the things I've found out recently just based on what questions she knew to ask her relatives. So I will have to carefully review each scrap of paper.

And there were also what seemed to be drafts of letters she wrote to family members. I guess she would write up a letter and then re-write the final and actually mail that. But it seems that she kept some of her drafts. I have to admit this seems so alien to me! All that writing seems like such a chore!!! But that is only because now nobody writes anymore, it's all typing and texting.

The other week at work I was participating in formal testing of software. This required a printed-out script of each step I had to perform in the software. And I was supposed to write exactly what happened in the system as I did each step. I was horrified! I looked at my co-worker and was like, you want me to "WRITE"??? With a PEN???? And these scripts were like 26 and 19 pages long! AND I was supposed to sign and date each page! I threw out insults about living in the 1500's and weren't we supposed to be a technology company and all that, but they just ignored me. I did it, but I did it grumpily and with numerous complaints of how carpel tunnel syndrome was kicking in. :-)

But anyway, I'm glad my grandmother kept those drafts because now I know what family members she was in contact with as she was doing her research back in the 90s.

And lastly, there were copies of genealogy reports I had sent her from my research, there were cut-outs of pictures from magazines that she probably meant to use for collages (she enjoyed creating collages of pictures from magazines), and there were newspaper clippings of how to get stains out of clothes and things like that.

It's this last batch of info that I'm wondering about. I look at it, and really, it's not stuff worth keeping. But I have a hard time thinking that because it was important enough for my grandmother to keep and tuck away. I mean, especially the old reports I sent her - if she didn't write anything on it, then it's so old and out-of-date, there is absolutely no reason to keep it.

So I need some encouragement here people - tell me it's okay to throw stuff out that I know, I KNOW, is not worth keeping. After all, if I were gone, would I want some relative to keep some stupid recipe I cut out of a magazine that I meant to make, but never did, but kept because the picture of the food was just so great looking? Of course not! Throw it out!

I guess I've talked myself into it, but I'm not going to do it tonight, I'll throw the useless stuff out the next time I get into that bag. For now it can all stay together.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Rhinal Adventures

"Rhinal" of course means "of or pertaining to the nose". All of you who thought it had something to do with the Rhine River, feel free to go someplace else more interesting.

Earlier this week I had 2 procedures done on my nose: septoplasty and turbinoplasty. These were done to correct a deviated septum. The hope here is that it will improve my breathing, which will lead to less sinus infections, and maybe (fingers crossed), less migraines that result from sinus pressure. I discovered recently that I had little air coming in the right side of my nose - and the right side is where I always get my sinus infections and migraines. Anything that might take away migraines is worth a try to me!!

The good news is that I didn't even need general anesthesia for this thing. I got lots of local anesthetic and sedation. Plus the doctor didn't do that packing thing that I've heard so many horror stories about. I just have 2 little pieces of plastic (splints) in my nose right now that are keeping the septum straight. I will admit that I'll be really glad monday morning when the splints come out. They are pretty annoying at this point.

The bad news is that currently I am a mouth-breathing medicated exhausted mess. It's hard to sleep like this. But I have hope - the people I've spoken with who have had this done have all said it worked out great for them. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Funny Pictures - Cat Comic, Dr. Tinycat
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obituary of Eulalia Argetsinger (abt. 1863 - 1956)

It's another obituary from my grandmother's collection today. I think that this person is actually a friend of the family and not a relative. The last name of "ARGETSINGER" is unusual, at least to me, so I remembered seeing it in my great-great-grandmother Hattie Elizabeth KIRBY AKINS QUICK ALLEN's funeral book on the page for friends to sign:

The names of the friends here for Hattie's funeral are:

Genevieve NEWBERRY
Mildred BUSH

Now, looking at the obituary of Eulalia ARGETSINGER shows she has a son, Lafayette W. ARGETSINGER.

So, my guess would be that either Eulalia was a friend of my great-great-grandmother Hattie (they were born only a couple years apart), or perhaps Lawrence ARGETSINGER or his wife was a friend of either Hattie's son Charles AKINS or her daughter Cornelia AKINS MIX SIMPSON.

Obituary Text:

Mrs. Eulalia Argetsinger, 93, of Burdett, May 19, 1956. Widow of Schuyler County assemblyman Lafayette W. Argetsinger Sr. Survived by son, Schuyler County Judge Lafayette W. Argetsinger Jr.; three grandsons, Lafayette W. Argetsinger III, Binghamton; Conrad and Cameron Argetsinger, Burdett; 11 grandchildren. Body to be removed from the Arnold Funeral Home to the family home Monday. Friends may call that day 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p. m. Services at family home Tuesday 2:30 p. m. The Rev. Charles Fulton. Hector Union Cemetery.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Organizing Electronic Genealogical Documentation

Yes! What a fascinating subject!

So gather round while I expound upon file naming conventions and how many sub-folders is too much...

If my father taught me anything, it's that redundancy is a good thing. Call him the Techie Martha Stewart, if you will.

I like multiple copies of my genealogical source information. And when I say multiple, I mean more than is seemly. So my paper sources documents have been scanned, and my electronic source documents have been printed. My bad karma when it comes to printing (not just for genealogy but for previous jobs) is hopefully being evened out by my donations to the American Chestnut Foundation. Check them out, we need our trees back!

Anyway, back to the story....

Today's focus is on the electronic copies of source documentation. Don't just save it to your hard drive. Also save it to an external hard drive. And also back it up on some kind of media. Set up a schedule, like people do with spring cleaning - so that every spring and fall you do a massive backup of your files. And don't just backup the new stuff...back up everything.

I'm also fond of multiple formats for my image files. So everything that I scan gets to be saved as a TIF and also a JPEG or JPG or whatever it is. Don't ask me, I just do the saving and opening.

Yes, it's tedious! OH-SO-TEDIOUS. Stand up, place image on scanner, close scanner, sit down, preview image, re-size image, think of good name for image, save image to TIF, save image to JPEG, stand up, remove image, place new image on scanner, close scanner, sit down, preview image....

You get the idea. Sometimes, to spice it up, I don't sit down, but stand at the computer. Or I make it into a drinking game and everytime I have to put the word "unknown" in a title I get to toss one back. Genealogy is fun! :-)

Saving all these documents that one scans or finds on the internet is not helpful unless you can find what you are looking for. So when I come across some tidbit of information somewhere, I need to be able to immediately access the document I know I have to compare to it.

It's important to use folder names that mean something to you, but at the same time, not ridiculously arcane just in case you get conked on the head and get amnesia. You want to be able to find your own stuff from the trail you left behind.


Firstly, I have the hardest time spelling this word. For some reason I want to spell it -cemetary-. Even now, that looks nicer to me. So try to spell things right or people will laugh when you are trying to show off.

I like to store not just photos from cemeteries, but also any lists of interments I find on sites like I never count on a website being there when I go back to it. So I often copy webpages into a word document and save it. Here I save info for my cemeteries in folders that are named from the least specific to the most specific bit of information. So, State, Country, City/Town, Cem. Name or Descriptive Term.

The most important thing to remember is be consistent! If you are consistent, you get information just by looking at the names of your folders or documents, without having to open anything.

Census Information

Yes, I named the folder "Censi" which may not be a word. To me, it is the plural of "census". I don't think it's technically a mis-spelling like "cemetary" so I just enjoy it.

Anyway, I use sub-folders of surnames and within each is a copy of census images. Again, you'll see that I use a naming convention of least specific to most specific: Year, State, County, City/Township/Village; District/Ward; Last Name; First Name.

A couple rules also exist. If the county and town are exactly the same, I tend to not repeat them since that would just make for an extra long file name. Since nearly all of these census records were found on, I use the spelling that returned the search result. In some cases, the spelling is not even CLOSE - but I've had situations in the past where I had a census record, and then went back to to search for it so I could see neighbors on the previous and next pages, but couldn't find it using the correctly spelled surname. This way I always know what spelling found the image for me. I always submit a transcription correction to ancestry, but they leave the wrong one as the primary. And finally, if there is a spouse, I include their first name along with the head's first name.

What's cool about this naming convention is that just by looking in a surname folder I can see immediately who was living in the same area during one census.

Over the decades, sometimes I accidently saved multiple versions of one record. In the old days, websites often gave you a BMP. I haven't deleted those because they are usually nice images to reference, so sometimes I have multiple formats of one census record. It's OK. And, it's okay to save the same census image in different surname folders if it's about both of them. Remember, redunancy is good.

Sometimes you come across someone that you just KNOW is related, but you aren't sure how - I save them too - in a mystery folder. One day, they'll get promoted up to the main surname folder.

Certificates (Birth, Death, etc.)

I keep these all in one spot rather than separated into different surname folders because certificates are super important. I like to put the name, date and type in the file name.

I agonized for a while over how to handle the married names for females. I finally decided that I would use their maiden name first, then any married names after that.


Another spot where it's okay to have duplicates. I'm often looking for a photo of a specific person. This way I can go to their photo folder and find the photo. If there are other people in the photo as well, a copy of the photo will be in their folders as well. Duplication in this case is fine.

And yes, it takes up a lot of room, especially when you are saving both TIF and JPG, so maybe there is just one Archive folder that has TIFs so you aren't duplicating them - depends on how much memory you have.


Finally, I keep a set of surname folders where everything that is not a certificate or census record is kept, kind of a catch-all for the miscellanea.

So let's review!

1. Duplicates are good, as long as they are planned and not accidental.
2. Redundancy is also good.
3. Drinking games are an excellent way of easing any tediousness that occurs due to #1 and #2.

All right then! :-)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!

May 2011 bring you your heart's desire!

(in a good way, not in some weird, oh-you-thought-you-wanted-it-but-now-see-you-were-wrong-and-have-learned-your-lesson way; so let me revise...)

May 2011 bring you your heart's desires as you skip merrily through the year allowing riches, good fortune and the occasional unclaimed gold bouillon or jewel that doesn't belong to anyone else to fall in your lap!

(I've been watching a lot of the old Twilight Zone marathon and you know how people are always learning lessons and having strange twists of fate happen on there so I just wanted to be clear...)